For a few weeks now, I have been going through personal meditation á la Marcus Aurelius and pondered about this Quarter Life Crisis (QLC). I consider myself a late-bloomer in some aspects of my life that I still feel some of this. It may be nothing, but it certainly always pushes me to assert the true me everytime my birthday comes around. This usually ranges from the early twenties to the early thirties. Again, I am a late bloomer in “some” aspects so don´t crucify me when you read this.
Some people don´t really understand the gist of this since coining of the term is pretty recent (and pointless). The first time I heard of the term was from a John Mayer song.
Man, I remember getting out of college, it is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn’t know and may or may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.
You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.
You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want. Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not. You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.
You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough to get to know better. You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person.
One night stands and random hook ups start to look cheap and getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts to look pathetic. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.
Wikipedia put it plainly:
Characteristics of quarter-life crisis may include:
feeling “not good enough”
feeling unsuited for current job
feeling that one’s life has no definitive purpose
frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
confusion of identity frustrated with peers and/or feeling more mature than peers
insecurity regarding the near future
insecurity concerning long-term plans, life goals
insecurity regarding present accomplishments
re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
disappointment with one’s job
nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
tendency to hold stronger opinions
boredom with social interactions
loss of closeness to high school and college friends
financially-rooted stress (overwhelming college loans, unanticipatedly high cost of living, etc.)
desire to have children
a sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you
uncontrollable urge to get a tattoo — Ok, I never got this urge at all!
These emotions and insecurities are not uncommon at this age, nor at any age in adult life. In the context of the quarter-life crisis, however, they occur shortly after a young person – usually an educated professional, in this context – enters the “real world”. After entering adult life and coming to terms with its responsibilities, some individuals find themselves experiencing career stagnation or extreme insecurity. The individual often realizes the real world is tougher, more competitive and less forgiving than they imagined. Furthermore, the qualifications they have spent so much time and money earning are not likely to prepare them for this disillusionment. A related problem is simply that many college graduates do not achieve a desirable standard of living after graduation. They often end up living in low-income apartments with roommates instead of having an income high enough to support themselves. Substandard living conditions, combined with menial or repetitive work at their jobs create a great amount of frustration, anxiety and anger. Nobody wants to admit to feeling like a ‘loser’; this secrecy may intensify the problem. As the emotional ups-and-downs of adolescence and college life subside, many affected by quarter-life crisis experience a “graying” of emotion. While emotional interactions may be intense in a high school or college environment – where everyone is roughly the same age and hormones are highly active – these interactions become subtler and more private in adult life. Furthermore, a factor contributing to quarter-life crisis may be the difficulty in adapting to a workplace environment. In college, professors’ expectations are clearly given and students receive frequent feedback on their performance in their courses. One progresses from year to year in the education system. In contrast, within a workplace environment, one may be, for some time, completely unaware of a boss’s displeasure with one’s performance, or of one’s colleagues’ dislike of one’s personality. One does not automatically make progress. Office politics require interpersonal skills that are largely unnecessary for success in an educational setting.
Looking at all the “symptoms”, I know MANY who are past 30+ who feel like this. Why box it in just one age group. Clearly, these issues are prominent in any stage in one´s life…more so than others of course.